Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I won’t lie, I was shaking under the table and nearly had to excuse myself to be ill during my first couple sessions on Monday. But I also get nervous about making phone calls to my mother and writing emails to people I don't know, so i guess I qualify as a generally jittery personality. Anyways, I didn’t feel prepared, but during both sessions I realized that though I’m not experienced, I am prepared. My first session was a lucky break. The tutee was coming in for a second session with a 500-word essay for 1010 class. In her previous session, she had worked through making sure her essay reflected the assignment. This time she wanted to just “double-check a few things….” I may have silently groaned, expecting that it would be a paper where the tutee wanted to make sure they didn’t have comma splices in a paper that had no thesis or purpose or sense of audience. I was very pleasantly surprised (and relieved!) to start reading the paper and discover that the tutee’s essay was passionate, articulate, and in blossoming grammatical health. We read through it and I was SO glad that Claire had talked in class about her dot theory (putting a dot above details to come back to at a later point). I explained to the tutee that I was going to just put a little mark for some things we might come back to if we had time, but first I thought we should check over the main ideas. I noticed first off that the paper had no paragraphs and I asked her about it. She said brought her assignment and she showed me where in the assignment the professor had said not to put extra space between paragraphs. It took me a sec to catch on, but I realized the professor was talking about the word processing option of adding an extra half space after hitting “Enter.” I showed the tutee how to fix that on the computer and explained that it was a good idea to have paragraphs. We read through the paper and found seven places where ideas changed and we might put a paragraph break. After finding them we went back through and talked about how each idea related back to the main idea and how we could connect some of them and add in some transition sentences. I was absolutely delighted by the tutee’s response. She was excited and engaged. After I talked about relating each paragraph to the main idea, she went right to the next paragraph and pointed out what was okay and what maybe needed to be changed. She made the decision to leave out a couple sentences because they weren’t tied in to the ideas surrounding them. I felt like we did good work, but I left the session worried that maybe I should have worked more with her to create strong introductory sentences to each paragraph. I also worried that maybe I hadn’t spent enough time on the thesis—I felt that the first paragraph told me where the essay was going, but I wondered about the balance between a directional statement in a personal essay and a hard-core academic thesis in a research paper. I hope I didn’t steer her wrong…or spend the entire session working on dividing up paragraphs only to have the professor ask where her thesis was. I wish we could keep copies of the student’s work and spend some time reviewing it with Claire or Dr. Rogers.


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